Travelling took a nosedive with the pandemic. Many had to cancel even expensive trips, be it for business or pleasure, compelled as they were to stay home.
Now, as the lockdown eases its restrictions and airlines are set to restart their domestic services on 25th May, with all the Aviation Ministry guidelines that the airlines and carriers have to follow, nobody wants to travel!
Most people we spoke to, even avid travellers, said "No travel, unless it’s an emergency."
Dr Sameer Azad, a dentist, is one such who is extra cautious about travelling by air, especially now, for he still believes the threat of the virus is not over. "I think air travel must be an option only if there is an emergency. Let us not forget that the coronavirus infection first spread through airports and flights. I honestly believe and have repeated this to my friends, too, we should avoid travelling especially by flight at least till the cases come down."
Anju Poddar, who’s an author, was an avid traveller always looking forward to her next trip. But for the moment, she’s not planning on taking a flight anytime soon. "My husband and I have been meaning for a while to meet my mother-in-law who lives in Kolkata. But we are both senior citizens, and if we take a flight, we will have to go undergo a multitude of tests and then quarantine ourselves," she articulates.
"As it is, Kolkata is in a bad state, and then we have our children in other cities, who are even more concerned about us. So, for the moment, there is no travel."
Airline rules and contagion risks
What’s killing the joy for travel now is the number of processes added to the already high logistics of airplane travel. Fliers cannot carry more than one baggage item, they need to reach the airport earlier than usual, present themselves for thermal scanning at arrival and departure, stand at designated areas at every place from check-in counters to food and beverage outlets, not carry their food on the plane, not have access to airplane food or the lavatory.
Shilpa Datla, an entrepreneur, is not willing to risk the pain of travel. "Who wants to go through the whole process? And then there is still going to be the risk of someone transmitting the infection to you. I’d rather avoid air travel in fact vacation travel is totally off the charts for now," exclaims Shilpa who points out she won’t do any kind of interstate travelling even because of the risk of contracting the disease anywhere in the country.
Even Namrata Rupani, a dentist and photographer who travels interstate for her shoots, says she prefers to avoid travel for the time being. "There is so much uncertainty, and the corona scare is very real. While travelling, you’ll find yourself constrained in many closed quarters, so unless it’s an unavoidable work, I will not opt to move around."
Luckily for Namrata, most of her regular work is restricted to her clinic in the city. "My shoots, thankfully, got all done before the lockdown was announced. I don’t see myself travelling until things settle down a bit," says Namrata.
Flying can wait
The pandemic and its resultant lockdown caused many people across many fields to change their travel plans. Musicians were a set of people who bore the brunt of cancelled plans too.
Dinker Kalvala, the lead vocalist of the band Capricio, also poured out his concerns. "Just before the lockdown, we had an upcoming trip to the US from the April 1st, but that got cancelled because of the lockdown," says Dinker, who also doesn’t see them travelling for another six to eight months even with the airlines soon starting with their services. "We would rather stay back where we are and not risk our lives."
Students who arrived in India for various reasons; even they have reportedly postponed their travel plans.
Ashish Jonnada, doing his master’s in Australia since last year, came home to spend holidays with his family but before he could go back to resume his student life, the lockdown was declared across many countries in the world.
Though he is still worried about his visa and return plans, he has postponed his plans by a few months.
"I am just happy I am back home during the pandemic. And while I am worried that my visa might expire, I would wish to wait until the situation gets normal because I do not want to undergo all the tests and the extra inconveniences around the travelling," says Ashish.